Sexual Violence in Europe in World War II, 1939-1945

TitleSexual Violence in Europe in World War II, 1939-1945
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsBurds, Jeffrey
JournalPolitics & Society
Date Published03/2009

Focusing in particular on the German-Soviet war in the East, this article explores variations in patterns of sexual violence associated with armed forces in Europe during and immediately after World War II. Besides soldier violence perpetrated against civilian populations, a significant role was also played by irregular forces: most notably, by partisan guerrillas and civilian vigilantes. Ethnic nationalist partisan forces perpetrated especially brutal sexual violence against women and girls of “enemy” nationalities. Likewise, after liberation civilian reprisals were fairly common throughout Europe against so-called “sexual collaborators”—that is, against women excoriated for providing “sexual comfort” to the enemy during the German occupation.

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